The Future of the Book

The idea of the book and the way it has been presented has evolved drastically over the course of human history. Starting out on palm sized clay tablets, which allowed for a convenient way to transport information. The scroll came next in the books development. Scrolls could fit much more information on them and could be constructed out of a variety of materials such as animal skin and papyrus. Next came the codex, which is what most people think of when they visualize a book. Organized pages, table of contents and brief messages from the author all secured between the cover and backing, made the codex user friendly and highly valuable. Eventually we found our way into digital text, which is able to be altered in anyways we choose. Most readers accessed these digital text via computer or E-reader device. With digital text we see the desire to no longer have our ideas set in stone. Instead, we wish to interact with the ideas in the text, adding in our interpretations, correcting mistakes and sharing newly formed concepts with friends and peers. 

Augmented Reality 

Todays reader has what seems to be an endless selection of how they wish to engage with the book. Some prefer the analog feel of the codex while others follow the flow of emerging technology. Utilizing highly advanced A.R. (Augmented Reality) glasses/contact lenses, readers now have the book displayed across their eyes. No longer reliant on the codex or screens, this new “reading vision” allows the user to enjoy their favorite book without the use of hands. Using only eye movements or voice commands, the reader can select any book they wish to read and even record voice annotations through a built in microphone. These annotations can then be uploaded onto a cloud where they can be accessed from anyone, depending on your privacy settings. Writer’s collaborating on a new book can share their drafts with one another and take note of any corrections or recommendations.

 “The design of such readers has gradually streamlined to minimize buttons and dials, heightening the sense that are simply interfaces for engaging with text” (Borsuk, The Book)

Virtual Reality 

Perhaps 100% hands free isn’t your preferred way of interacting with a book. In which case flawlessly integrated V.R. (Virtual Reality) would be the ideal form for you. Simply place the newly refined lenses over your eyes, attach tiny motion sensors to your palms and finger tips and you’re good to go. This fully immersive reading experience allows the user to “flip” through pages, “write” any annotations (using finger tips or V.R. pen) and share with anyone in real time. V.R. can allow you the option to pick what your virtual space looks like. For example, let’s say the book you’re currently reading takes place in deep space or even in the past. Simply allow the A.I. image generator, conveniently integrated into the lenses, to scan your readings and create that specific environment for you. You even have the capability to invite friends into your virtual space to read together and discuss ideas. Virtual book clubs have become highly popular as a result of this technology. The convince of joining close friends to share your thoughts on a book without ever having to leave the comfort of home is ideal for those with busy schedules. 

Academic Benefits 

Highly advanced virtual reality is also a great tool for schools and job training. Students are now able to experience history books, mathematical formulas and science experiments in a fully immersive digital space. This helps the student to develop a more personal interactive experience with the book, allowing for stronger retention of academic knowledge. Trade schools and job training have also utilized virtual reality by integrating their various books. This process gives the trainee the opportunity to learn hands on without wasting physical materials or fear of injury.

Authors 

Authors of this new era have a multitude of ways to write and publish their works. Some prefer to work alone while others create group efforts. Most prefer to interact with their reading audience while working on their current writings. This technique seems to be the most beneficial to both author and reader as the reader gets to express their interpretations and desires, and the author, can shape their books in a way to maintain the readers attention. Once these writings are complete, the author has the option to sell directly to their audience or have their work digitally distributed and available through monthly subscriptions.

 We’ve come a long way from the days of scrolls and pages of immutable text. The main driving force for this evolution is and was our desire to interact more personally with the book and have the ability to share our interpretations. This is not to say that the analog version is completely unusable. It simply comes down to how one personally prefers to interact with their readings.   

 

Work cited

Borsuk, Amaranth. “The Book“. The MIT Press, 2018.

Mini Essay: A Breakthrough in Book Technology!

While surfing the internet, as one does, I came across this invention that will hopefully be a breakthrough in book technology! 

As you can see, it looks like an ordinary book from years ago, but what’s exciting is that all the pages are very thin screens that show text and images! It’s taken many years to develop screens thin, flexible, and durable enough to somewhat imitate paper pages. These new high-tech pages emit a soft glowing light, doing reading at night or in dimly lit places easy. The pages can’t be folded or dog-ears like people can do with paper pages, though. 

To get the content onto the pages, there is a small slot in the spine to insert a memory card. You must first go online and download the book you want from a special website. This website holds all of the files of published books that work with this new digital book. Just like regular e-books, you must pay a small fee to access the content. This is how authors can get paid for publishing this way! Once the memory card is inserted into the spine, the pages will illuminate and you are ready to read the book you chose. If you prefer to not use a memory card, there is also a USB port so you can connect your book directly to whatever device you choose and get the content that way. It seems like since this is a very early form, it doesn’t quite have direct internet access yet.

I have always wanted something that gave me the same experience as a paper book but enhanced my experience, so this announcement was very exciting to me. I wanted to still feel the hardcover and flip pages but somehow access the content easier. Keeping the book’s integrity is what is most important to me. Amaranth Borsuk states in her writing “The Book” that digital interfaces that allow people to read digitally borrow physical book structures, but remediate them in the digital environment. The content and functionality mimic reading a real book, but the actual physical form is not very codex-like (122-123). Electronic books allow you to bookmark, annotate, and flip back and forth between “pages”, but it will never be the same experience as a physical book with paper pages. 

There was always the convenience of being able to easily download an electronic book onto my computer, phone, or tablet for school or entertainment. It was as easy as opening an app, typing in a title, and downloading. Within seconds, I could have a “book” in my hands. This saved me the trouble of going to the library or bookstore. Instead of walking through the aisles filled to the top with books, I was now scrolling through a digital library of books. The spines of books with just the name and author on a shelf that you had to pull out to learn more were no more, instead replaces with the digital covers I could easily tap on. No longer asking a librarian or bookstore employee for book recommendations, I was now consulting my favorite search engine and stranger’s reviews. Electronic books were also cost-efficient when I was in college, being significantly cheaper than going to the bookstore and buying one. I could easily pull up the book on my iPad that I carried around with me every day, lessening the load on my back as well as not having to carry multiple textbooks. Everything I needed for my classes was now accessible to me with just one device, and I still had most of the same functions as if I was carrying around physical books. I could write notes, bookmark pages I wanted to go back to, highlight sections I found were important, and flip pages (assisted with the page flipping animations). 

Although having electronic books on my digital devices was convenient and cheaper, I still always found myself wishing I had the physical version of the book. There was just something different about feeling the paper pages and reading text that was not on a flat screen. Even the book I referenced earlier that is all about the history of books and their structure is downloaded onto a digital device for me to read. I wonder how my reading experience would differ if I had the real cover, paper pages, and could put slips of paper in between the pages so I could go back to certain passages. 

This breakthrough in book technology is incredibly exciting. Of course, it is still in the very early stages so there is much more development to happen which also brings many questions to my mind. The following sections of writing are a mixture of questions about the design and interface and some things that I would like to see implemented. 

Content

In the information I read, it said that both text and images can be displayed on these pages. Thinking of other books and writing published online, the internet allows for video and sound as well. I would be interested to see if sound and moving images could be implemented onto these screens/pages.

Formatting

If the blank codex only has 150 pages but the content you are plugging in has 200 pages, how will that be displayed? Just like with electronic books, there should be an option to increase or decrease the text size. This would also change the page formatting, and possibly make a 150-page book turn into 175 pages. What if I want to enlarge a picture? Should there be multiple different sizes of these books just like traditional books to accommodate for different sizes? 

If there are multiple different sizes of books, or people just want to own multiple of these books, there should be a way to identify which content is in what book. With a screen on the spine that displays the title and author, when stored on a bookshelf you could easily identify which book is which. 

Having multiple sizes of books will somewhat solve the formatting and accessibility question, but it will also allow readers to continue to have the experience they have with paper books. Bookshelves will still be filled, just filled with these new types of books.

Annotating and Interacting

You obviously would not want to dog-ear one of these pages because it might ruin the screen. Will there be a built-in bookmarking method similar to electronic readers? Some people may prefer this method of bookmarking compared to the traditional sticky note, colorful paper, or corner of a random document you may have near you.

With annotating, you obviously would not want any paper or pencil near these pages. I use an iPad with Apple Pencil to write notes and annotate on electronic books. I wonder if a stylist could be incorporated to allow readers to annotate similarly. This could be stored in the spine of the book, slipping into a storage area similar to how there is a spot in a DS for the DS stylist. Having the annotations be added to the content of the book allows for future review. If I were to annotate a book and then switch to another book, I would hope that when I go back to the original book my notes would still be there.

Energy Source

Technology like this will need a way to power it. With the covers being somewhat thin like a book you could pick up in the library or bookstore, where would the power source/battery be stored? It seems like the only place where it wouldn’t stick out much and it would be protected in the spine. Making this book rechargeable will also be an essential characteristic. Since the pages/screens are displaying information already, there could be a small icon either on the spine or the top of a page, similar to a phone, that displays the battery percentage. Thinking of phones, tablets, and laptops, all you need to do is plug a cord into them and they will charge. Following this same concept, just like how the book has an area to connect a cord to a computer to access content, this port can be used for charging. 

Libraries and Bookstores

I wonder what will happen to libraries if this new type of digital book becomes popular…If people can have a blank codex and just plug in what book they want to read, going somewhere to check out a book will not be needed anymore. Of course, many people will still prefer the original experience of reading a paper book, but the demand will significantly decrease. Many find the convenience of digital books more appealing with their busy lives consumed with technology. 

Will bookstores slowly switch to tech stores that sell this technology rather than a place that sells paper books? Perhaps bookstores and libraries will become a place where you can access this content from a database, rather than buying the content at home. 

I am excited to see the next developments in this invention and I am sure most of my questions will be answered when more information is released. 

Project Gutenberg Spooky Stories

The Waste Land by T. S. Elliot – I. The Burial of the Dead

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1321/1321-h/1321-h.htm 

A collection of poems about emotions and life after World War I. The first section I chose, called The Burial of the Dead, is about sorrow and numbness, not wanting to look back on memories. The speaker eventually meets with a famous fortune teller who pulls tarot cards for them. There is continued talk of being soulless, not much emotion, and being glum. Not necessarily about Halloween, but I thought this one fit the mood and color of spooky and dark.

The Stoneground Ghost Tales by E. G. Swain- Bone To His Bone

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/44581/44581-h/44581-h.htm#II

The Stoneground Ghost Tales is a collection of ghost stories written about the main character named Mr. Batchel. In the selection I chose, the beginning talks of a man named William Whitehead, who came to a church and enjoyed spending time in the study with books before his death. Mr. Batchel now resides at this church and his bedroom is next to this library. Guests had said they heard noises coming from the library at one or two am thinking it was Mr. Batchel when it indeed was not him. Mr. Batchel goes to the library to read one night when he is unable to sleep when supernatural things begin to happen. A knock on a desk and an open book appear when no one else is in the room with him. After reading the open pages of the book, Mr. Batchel takes a walk outside to the garden where he begins to dig. After a few spoonfuls of soil, he finds a human bone. When he goes back into the library, the book is magically back in its place on the shelf.

an image of a person using a virtual reality headset.

The Future of the Book

The smooth and sturdy cover of a freshly bought book opens, and the magical scent of a new book wafts towards me, smelling the same as it did in my childhood. The text is neatly typed from left to right, the thin pages turn swiftly, and the imagination is working full steam ahead. Just like always.

Well, almost. In the front of this book lays a printed QR code, on the receipt a randomized password. With my Virtual Reality controller, I scan the code, input the password, and suddenly I’m transported into the book itself. I soar above the clouds on a dragon’s back, I read next to a fire with Jane Austen, and I waltz beneath brightly colored truffula trees.

This is the current state of the book. While many prefer to simply buy the online versions of popular novels, true bibliophiles will spend the extra money to obtain the analog versions as well. With the proliferation of Virtual Reality, or VR, the publishing of books has flourished in digital formats. This development was predicted decades in the past, as educator Amaranth Borsuk claimed that “the potential of digital devices to serve as book interfaces has been present since the early days of portable computing” in her 2018 novel The Book (p. 200). Readers can now buy anything from an ebook to a fully immersive interactive experience. Each different form, of course, has its own price tag. A digital text is the least expensive, followed by the print book itself, then varied digital interactive experiences. The latter of the three has only become commonplace within the last decade, but innovations in its sphere have grown immensely. Each genre of book has seen different digital iterations, with each blurring the line between “reader” and “user”. Let’s examine the most popular genres available in modern digital formats: textbooks, classical novels, fantasy stories, and children’s books.

Historically large and imposing objects, textbooks have a reputation of putting their readers to sleep. However, in the modern age, professors now utilize what we now know as textbooks for far more than just reference material. Now, textbooks are seen as incomplete without expansive digital components that go beyond simple PDF versions of the text. A fantastic example is a physics textbook. Now, readers interface with interactive diagrams of falling objects and forces embedded into the digital text instead of simple images printed in a book.

an image of complex math and physics equations.
An example of an archaic and static diagram of formulas that would be found in analog textbooks.

Perhaps most important development is the digital lab feature provided with most of these books. Within this feature, students can conduct real-time experiments just as they would in reality, yet without any of the inherent dangers or costs of using physical matter. While analog copies of textbooks are still available, many teachers require these digital versions of the text for their lab instruction unless a student has an accessibility accommodation. These modern textbooks can also be updated online to reflect more accurate information, though this upgrading process does cost users. With these innovations of the simple textbook, gone are the days of static diagrams and immutable information.

 

 

Classical novels have truly stood the test of time. Greats like Dickens, Shakespeare, and Austen still captivate audiences centuries after their deaths. Part of their popularity stems from the fact that they have always been on the cutting edge of technology. This is due to their copyright-free nature, as artists have used them to experiment and develop the digital landscapes and experiences we are so used to today. In fact, according to Borsuk, the very first audiobooks ever produced were recordings of public domain works such as poems by Edgar Allen Poe (p. 205). While these books used to simply be available as print novels, audiobooks, or free ebooks, they have now been transformed beyond their pages. For example, readers can now experience A Christmas Carol as it was first designed to be: read by Charles Dickens. Now, the real Dickens is of course not actually reading this book, but AI technology, combined with first-hand accounts of people viewing his plays, has led to modern populations being able to listen to and view Dickens performing his stories, just as he would have far into the past. A similar system has been developed to experience Shakespearian plays, where you can sit within the Globe Theatre and watch as three witches circle a scheming Macbeth. Now, these authors created works of writing that were inherently meant to be acted out, but what about novels that are less interactive? Readers don’t have to look far, as many authors have been AI generated to read their classic novels to you by a fireside. Users can visit Jane Austen in her home as she enthralls you in Pride and Prejudice, or travel to a Spanish villa to hear a recounting of Don Quixote. These experiences are much like audiobooks, simply transformed for the modern age.

Words cannot always aptly describe truly awe-inspiring scenes, and authors are tasked with simply doing the best that they can. However, now authors can coordinate with visual effects artists and 3D modelers to bring their books to life. This is most prevalent in fantasy and science fiction novels. These books are not AI generated movies (though that media has certainly flourished in the past decade), but rather settings surrounding the user as they read. The process is best described by Borsuk when she states that “Book artists have explored [the] spaciality [of books] by creating virtual realities that puncture the two-dimensional plane of the page,” (p. 149). For example, readers with access to the interactive digital version of Eragon by Christopher Paolini are presented with a myriad of breathtaking scenes that shift as you continue with the novel. What better place to read about Farthen Dur than inside the mountain city itself, gaping in awe at the sheer size of the underground civilization? Readers will also find themselves riding upon the great blue dragon Saphira’s back, navigating the seas with Roran Garrowson as he travels in search of the Ra’zac, or reading underneath the grand trees of the elven city Du Weldenvarden. In addition to photo-realistic visuals, ambient noise relating to the location is also incorporated. These settings are crafted to supplement the imagination, not replace it, as the actions in the book do not play out in real time. Rather, these scenes set a tone and a mood for readers to truly immerse themselves into the books as they read. While readers of the past had to seek out quiet spaces to truly become engrossed in a book, modern readers can simply put on their VR headsets.

an image of a tree surrounded by glowing blue mushrooms.
An example of a setting a reader may find themselves immersed in.

Bright colors, distinctive shapes, and silly storylines: these are the hallmarks of children’s story books. Traditionally made out of thick cardboard printed with vivid inks, this form of writing has, like all other forms, become available in interactive digital versions thanks to virtual reality. Many headsets that are made for children will come with children’s stories preprogrammed into them, but they can also be purchased online or alongside analog versions just like most every book.

an image of a boy and a girl using virtual reality headsets.
Children often use virtual reality to read, as it helps to stimulate their imaginations.

Pop-up children’s books have perhaps translated to the digital world the best. Instead of cardboard and paper bushes rising up from the page for a bunny to run past, they burst up from a digital landscape. In many of these books, the words will be displayed on the bottom of the screen as a read-along with the narrator. This moves away from what other genres do, as most others leave a digital book in hand for users to use. However, this format leaves the child’s hands free to interact with the scenery or animals present with the book while also learning how to read from the bottom text. Of course, there is a much larger demand for purchasing analog books alongside digital ones in this genre, as parents can then use them as bedtime stories for their children.

 

an image of a father reading a story to a baby.
Analog books are still prevalent in the modern era in certain spheres.

We’ve explored how various books have transformed in the digital world, but where does that leave publishers? Why would readers ever want analog versions of books when interactive ones are available? Well, many adults still prefer the experience of reading an analog book, a joy that has echoed throughout centuries. No matter what innovations have been made or how technology has advanced, the analog book has remained steadfast and popular to this day. It’s classic feel, freedom, and inexpensive nature lends itself easily to readers everywhere. Publishers have grown to realize this, which is why they often sell package deals for both analog books and their digital formats. Large publishers now have entire departments dedicated to creating these interactive formats alongside departments focusing on the physical books. Smaller publishers may outsource the creation of their digital media, but will still prioritize the physical medium. There is a security with publishing analog books, as each new generation realizes that these material objects contain just as much magic as their online counterparts.

The book has come a very long way. Its use as a source of knowledge and entertainment has stood the test of time. While digital worlds are being created to allow readers to experience books like never before, the analog book still remains strongly in publication. Even if these volumes do not allow you to watch Dickens perform, ride on the backs of dragons, or chase a rabbit through bushes, they prompt your imagination to visualize it just the same. Whether readers are opening a physical tome or a digital one, whether they smell the scent of a new book or feel the grip of their VR controllers, they are unlocking a magic that book readers have experienced since words were first put to the page.

Citation: Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2018.

The Future of the Book

Free Person Reaching Out to a Robot Stock Photo

The year is 2053. Specifically, 20 September 2053. Thirty years since I was a university student talking about digital publishing and its bright future. Who knew the culture of storytelling would develop drastically into what it is now? I sure as well didn’t. Why am I suddenly reminiscing about some random university course I took 30 years now? Well, with my involvement in graphic design and digital publishing, I was able to get my hands on a VR prototype that enhances one’s senses on digital books a few years back and just a few weeks ago I bore witness to the release and rise of VR in pop culture, specifically, for digital books.

I guess I should’ve seen this coming, technology has been integrated into our society for decades and the rise of webtoons and interactive storytelling back then should’ve been a hint. Maybe I did notice but didn’t want to in fear of some sort of dystopian society straight out of those sci-fi movies? I don’t know. Who cares; when the future is present, what’s done is done.

Free Man Punching in the Air while in VR Goggles Stock Photo

Either way, it’s crazy to see how far digital books have come and the grasp it has on society now. It looks straight out of those dystopian sci-fi movies I used to be scared of as a kid. On the large electronic ads across cities, you’re constantly faced with a person wearing VR goggles and a large smile peeking under as they wave their arms frantically like they’re balancing on a tightrope. Or that one guy whose mouth is in a straight line as his arms are held close to his body, like he’s holding a gun. Or even that one viral clip of the old lady who didn’t know she was reading a horror book and when a ghost popped up in front of her face, she screamed and fell. VR has been around but with the rise in digital books being published on an archive similar to Steam, even those hiding away in their rooms reading were brought out to enjoy VR and AR with everyone.

Free Man Wearing Grey Shirt Using Virtual Realty Headset Stock Photo

Nothing much has changed with VR, only the expansion of opportunities for digital books. In VR, there’s an archive much like steam, except for digital books that many artists can publish. From small creators to large companies, anyone can publish their books into the archives for the public to read and experience. One of the larger differences is the additional technology accessories created to accompany the VR. Now, there’s upgrades on head, hand, eye, and body tracking so when you read and experience the book, the characters around you are more attuned to your very own actions, making it as if they actually exist and they have realistic responses to your actions. There’s also voice activation; as you’re reading something out loud or making a choice, your voice is being recorded to interact with the story’s progress. It’s crazy! I really couldn’t believe I’m experiencing the future. It’s as Borusk said all those years ago, “The book, distributed across them, becomes a multimedia and multi-navigable space: a virtual reality layered onto our own” (Borusk, 124).

Works cited

Borusk, Amaranth. The Book. MIT Press, 2018.

Note:

Storytelling has had a social and cultural impact for thousands of years, we see them in the form of visual drawings along caves and we hear them orally from person to person. With technology, we are able to mix the two and create a more immersive experience for readers across the world and even expand through time. But how much further can we take with digital books?

Free City Lights Turned on during Night Time Stock Photo

I don’t know why, but I admit I had a hard time writing as if I’m 20-30 years into the future and comparing books in the future to back then and so I wanted to write this side-note to sort of go explain what I envisioned (or, at least, hope to see) the future of digital books 20 to 30 years from now. In my future writing, I wanted to take a unique turn and envision myself to be slightly fearful of the future in which I look towards a dystopian sort of society where the people have been completely obsessed with VR technology (kind of like the movie, Ready Player One). While I see a bright future of digital publishing, I thought it would be fun and a challenge to see it as something that could be a downside of the future, especially with the rise in controversy of social media and who’s in charge of them.

Free Boy in virtual reality helmet playing joystick Stock Photo

In about 20-30 years, I see digital books creating an immersive space that enhances the reader’s senses. Specifically, I see visual elements whether that be animation or drawings in play, sound effects and voice acting, and even enhancing your sense of touch through vibrations. This idea stems from webtoons. Webtoons are digital comics you can read on the computer or your smartphone and originated from South Korea. It started out as digital comics but as time passed and technology has advanced, authors have begun to use technological resources given to them to add effects to their comics. They’ve added auditory effects such as music and sound effects, visual effects such as animations, and even added vibrations to connect with your sense of touch. One webtoon example that uses all of these effects is a horror webtoon called Shriek. In the story, you would get scary animations of ghosts crawling towards you, ominous music as you read, and random vibrations to scare you. Readers in the comments have expressed their delight at how these effects have helped create a spooky and unsettling atmosphere that pulled the screen closer to their face and sent shivers down their spine. By building off of that experience, I want to see a future where we add that element Webtoon creates to one’s whole entire physical being. By doing so, I want to elaborate on virtual reality in which I mix gaming and webtoons. 

Free Man in VR with game riffle playing video game Stock Photo

At first, I had a hard time deciding how I envision digital books without crossing the line towards gaming but then I realized video games are simply another way of storytelling. With that realization, I wanted to explore video games which are a great source of interactive storytelling and see how I can mix the two to develop into something greater in 20 to 30 years. Virtual reality is a simulated experience designed to enhance your senses and pull you into another reality. Some elements it has includes head/hand/eye tracking and some even have voice activation and pads or vests to put on so you feel vibrations while playing a game. I want to use these ideas and see how far we can go with digital publishing. I also wanted to talk about augmented reality but felt virtual reality would best fit my vision while connecting digital books.

Free Girl Wearing Vr Box Driving Bicycle during Golden Hour Stock Photo

If I were to list a specific example of my vision, I see VR expanding their technology to encompass digital books as well. You can use it at home or even visit a building where a company rents out large rooms for you to use (kind of like escape rooms) and walk around freely. When you put on the headset and vest, you’re in a sort of archive library full of different worlds and stories created by small creators to large scale companies. These stories range from adventure, horror, fantasy, romance, mystery, etc. that you can select from. Once you choose a story, you’re transported into its world where you can choose to be the main character and make your own choices (like the latest game, The Quarry) or be in the world but watch the story unfold (kind of like those 4D movie theaters that place you in the movie. Your head movements, body movements, and eye movements can affect the dialogue (for example, you putting up your fists can indicate the choice of fighting). You can read out loud the dialogue to progress the story and communicate with the characters as if you’re really talking to them. Some examples of voice activation are those horror games where if you speak into the mic, the monster can hear you (for example, Escape the Ayuwoki) or even reading the dialogue can prompt scenes to unfold (ex. Midnight Evil). With the vest, it releases vibrations/sensations to further enhance your physical experience of the story. For example, a character gives you a pat on the shoulder, you can feel the steady thumps on your shoulder in real life. Or maybe you’re playing a horror game, walking through the dark and eerie hallways of an abandoned house alone. Suddenly, you feel a shiver down your back and the grab of your arm that you can feel in real life. The quiet creeks of the floorboards, dark vision only illuminated by a dim flashlight, and the feeling of someone right behind you would surely enhance your spooky experience within the story. 

Overall, what I envision when it comes to the future of digital books is a very bright future. I see the integration of digital books and video gaming to create an enhanced version of webtoons and the expansion of video games/movies. I wanted to focus on enhancing the reader’s senses as one of the main developments when it came to the future of digital storytelling.

Photos courtesy of Pexels.

Yes! The Amontillado!

Book Cover

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1063/1063-h/1063-h.htm

The cask of Amontillado – Edgar Allen Poe

The cask of Amontillado is a highschool favorite of mine. Easily one of the most memorable stories I know. I remember in my youth thinking how terrifying it must have been for poor Fortunato, how ironically unfortunate. There are comedy elements throughout the story, but it’s hard to fathom the mindset of a psychopath with the determination to kill. This story is about a Montresor man who is great friends with a man of Fortunato, he seeks revenge for an unknown reason and buries him alive in his family’s catacombs.

Book Cover
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/60935/60935-h/60935-h.htm

Don’t think about it – William W. Stewart

This story is messed up. It leaves food for thought that it could be about a real monster that a toddler has difficulty conveying information to his parents about, or it could be about how the child, Tommy, set his aunt and his house on fire because of anxiety. Either way, the story is about a three-year-old named Tommy who can see a mousehole in his closet. He has trouble communicating with the grown-ups and he understands that their perspective is closed off from his reality. So the mousehole contains a monster that’s bloodthirsty and the kid just wants to take matters into his own hands. In the end, it’s a happy story because he gets a new house and a baby sister.

Beware the Terror of these Tales!

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1064

In this novel written in 1842 by Edgar Allen Poe a disease known as the “Red Death” plagues a country causing its victims to die in quickly and in a gruesome manner. With the disease bringing rampage throughout the country the prince, Prospero, feels hopeful that this plague will soon end. In his naivety, the prince decides to lock the gates to the palace in order to fend off the “Red Death” ignoring its spread. It is during a masquerade ball thrown by the prince that he and his guests are visited by a mysterious character who is a victim of the “Red Death.” Filled with fear the prince tries to get away from this man, but to no avail, he and his guests succumb to the plague allowing for the disease to bring about its lasting reign of terror.

 

Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/41445

In this novel written in 1818 by Mary Shelley a young and gifted scientist by the name of Victor Frankenstein filled with grief from his mother’s death becomes obsessed with the idea of bringing life back to non-living matter and creating the perfect specimen. Through this obsession, he succeeds with his experiment giving life to a being of his own creation. However, as this creation comes to life he is filled with the horrifying realization of what he has done. He was not able to create a perfect specimen, but rather he created a hideous creature. Plagued with the rejection the creature has faced by his creator and mankind he sets off on a frenzy of revenge, murder, and terror. Although, the question remains who really is the monster?

Spooky Stories

The stories I chose from Project Gutenburg are a series of stories titled Hallowe’en at Merryvale by Alice Hale Burnett and a poem titled Splores of a Halloween, Twenty Years Ago by Alexander Dick.

Hallowe’en at Merryvale: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/17145

This is a series of short stories about boys in a typical American town. This is one in a series of this type of story by the author who said they “are written so the boy may read and understand them and the action faithfully portrays boy life in a small town”  Young adult fiction in the 1910s was very different that The Hunger Games it seems. Less world-changing freedom fighting and more bucolic idyll it would seem. I chose this because I read something similar ad nauseam (the Homer Price stories by Robert McClosky) when I was so this appealed to me.

Splores of a Halloween, Twenty Years Ago by Alexander Dick: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34780

This story was interesting partially for the content, but partially for the author’s foreword about the provenance behind it. Apparently the poem was initially a submission to a newspaper contest soliciting Halloween poems and this one wasn’t initially published. The editor of the paper took issue with the fact that some of the poems were judged “worse” than others and “judged not fit for public recitation” so he decided to publish them anyway and let the public decide. I think that kind of statement associated with this artifact makes in interesting. I can’t help but think that this author and editor would be pleased from beyond the grave that this poem was being reworked in a modern time.

Mini-Essay: Sagacious Satiric Scrawl?

(9/19/53) TODAY on Old Terra archaeological excavations by Micro-Zon Consolidated Holdings Ltd. experts hit paydirt, figuratively speaking. Beneath a massive stone edifice that was thought to contain pre-Unification gold reserves, Micro-Zon CH Ltd. archaeologists discovered something arguably more interesting! Remember the old saying “a screenshot is worth a thousand texts”, well what our experts found are worth millions of screenshots!

Available now in limited quantities are “Books” from before the waters rose! Well preserved within the ancient structure once known as a “Library”, no not where your Micro-Zon CH Ltd. purchases are stored, but a whole building just for these books. Of course it has been 30 long years since the surface of Old Terra was rendered uninhabitable in the Big Mistake and the Exodus began. The need for this ancient style of book disappeared with the advent of Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter. However these ancient artifacts are sure to astound and delight both history and language enthusiasts alike!

So, what are books? Well we are all familiar with the Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter, a lightweight metamaterial tablet used for all purposes. The Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter can be used to watch the latest Micro-Zon CH Ltd. movies and shows, listen to the hottest new music, browse the Net, as well as support for all Micro-Zon CH Ltd. Creative Suite products to unleash your creativity! It seems like the FireStarter does it all, so what do books do?

ai generated image of a book

One of the recovered artifacts from Old New York is a history of all things about books, appropriately titled The Book by Amaranth Borsuk. The simplest description of a book in The Book is “a stack of paper sheets, bound on one end, and encased between covers” (X). And while a book certainly doesn’t have Fast and the Furious XLVII 2 in full QZHD quality like the Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter, the book won’t need more batteries. In fact even as far back as 30 years ago they had something like the FireStarter, described by The Book as “flat, lightweight screens that can show us any volume in a whole library of texts” (X). While that’s not quite what we would use it for, they’ve got the spirit!

This begs the question: “What do you use a book for, then?” Back in the dark days before Micro-Zon CH Ltd. introduced Sirlexa to read to us, a person had to physically hold one of these stacks of paper, a primitive electronic table, or wait for another human to record reading the story out loud and listen to that. Imagine that, you would have to devote your full measure of attention to finicky little letters stuck to sheets or on a screen. This would, of course, render you unable to sort packages or respond to emails, which are core Micro-Zon CH Ltd. values. See: 1

Alright so we know books are meant to be laboriously read. What kinds of things can you expect to find in a book? The Book describes that books contain not only text, but images, and occasionally textures and sounds (IX). Despite the limitations of the book they were wildly popular for hundreds of years before the Big Mistake. Books remain popular with a specific set of intellectuals and history enthusiasts who will bend your ear off about their virtues, ignoring the fact that books never change, they might as well be single use! In today’s world, who has time to manually read the same story more than once when instead you could watch Real Househusbands of Luna Prospekt?

Despite the drawbacks there are those who will extoll the virtues of the book. Proponents like Borsuk will say that books enable a “kind of private, meditative … experience” (53). Frankly, who has time for that anymore? Despite the projections, the Micro-Zon CH Ltd. family will likely be putting in overtime for the foreseeable future to hit our production goals. With the newest edition of Sirlexa, your Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter will read to you from one of dozens of titles in the company library, free of charge! There’s no need to settle for simple text, let Sirlexa generate the images to fill in the gaps in your head and bring your favorite scenes to life, just as the company designed.

With the wide range of choices from the company library you might wonder if you’d ever need more! According to The Book at one point there were 32,000,000 unique books in the world, with untold copies of each (223). Attempts were made to convert the books to digital versions but unfortunately the Corporate War of FY 2039 led to the digital versions being lost. Rumors persist that these versions exist on Micro-Zon CH Ltd. servers and are being deliberately withheld from consumption. This is patently false. See: 2

The wide selection of titles available from the company library continues to expand through the efforts of emergent AI authors such as Micro-Zon CH Ltd.’s own Sirlexa. Experience the perfectly paced masterworks of nondeterministic fiction written, illustrated, narrated, and published by Micro-Zon CH Ltd. What the company refers to as “Single Source Publishing” is actually a strength and value because it provides a sense of cohesion and unity. The Book itself describes that the very act of publishing is “the true measure of ‘what makes a book, a book’” (241). Despite the concerns that some non-company critics have voiced, these stories are perfectly calibrated to accompany your workday to motivate you to a great outcome! See: 2

 

The books offered for sale from the excavation vary widely in quality and content and despite their long nap they are just as ready to use as ever! If you don’t have time for a book or once you get bored, the global popularity of the FireStarter and the Net means your entertainment will never be out of reach. If you are concerned about the longevity of your FireStarter on a long tram ride back to the dormitories, consider buying a booster powerpack to make sure you don’t miss the final moments of the big SmashBall game! Worried about durability? Unlike a book that is ruined and can’t be fixed if it gets wet, the FireStarter can be protected under our Micro-Zon CH Ltd. replacement plan to get a new FireStarter in the event it is exposed to water, humidity, dust, or extreme temperatures.

One of the core Micro-Zon CH Ltd. value is that we remain on the forefront of innovation and technological advances. Because of our commitment to this value we are proud to begin offering a new line of products influenced by our latest discoveries. Micro-Zon CH Ltd. will begin offering physical versions of many of the titles in the company library. These will incorporate the latest technology also slated for release in the FireStarter 2. Experience being able to TOUCH the words of your favorite stories about Captain Bezos and little Clippy, SEE the action through the multimedia panes, HEAR the clang of swords and thrum of conveyor belts. All of this and more is made possible through novel applications of lightweight metamaterials enabling an experience similar to but radically different. Like the fun cousin of the static, turgid, stoic books excavated from the “Ew York Public Library”.

Archeology on Old Terra is always full of surprises. On one day, company experts might find the remains of the Great Pyramid and the other they find a load of old dusty books. Fortunately these books are of great value both to the culture of the human race and to Micro-Zon CH Ltd. so the efforts were not wasted this time. Hopefully this primer has encouraged you to set aside some of your wage packets for layaway on a book to take a few hours of vacation to read.

1. (Unstructured free time for leisure is not a Micro-Zon Consolidated Holdings Ltd. corporate value. As such the purchase of these books may be restricted for MZCH Ltd. employees or their families.)

2. (There has been a great deal of concern raised on our rival, BlackRock-GeneralDynamics’ public forums about the availability of movies, shows, music, and literature from non-Micro-Zon CH Ltd. sources for our employees’ consumption. While this no doubt comes from a place of genuine concern, we remind BR-GD representatives and employees that all Micro-Zon CH Ltd. employees are free to leave their housing spires and seek alternate employment at any time if they wish to consume other media. Further comments on this matter from either BR-GD or Micro-Zon CH Ltd. staff will result in a paralegal assault team being dispatched to their locations to deliver a De/Cease and Desist Letter regarding the matter.)

The whole point of this piece is a satire on the way that corporations expect employees to live their lives, how commodification of everything in the world is a toxic enterprise, and how the company will expect you to forget what they said yesterday and consume today, while exploring the affordances and future of the book in an increasingly weird world. If this is absolutely not what I was supposed to write, at least I had fun. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Borsuk, A. (2018). The book. The MIT Press.

Devon Baxter – The Future of the Book Mini-Essay


Books have been thought of as texts that have texts that don’t change as fast or as quickly. In the book this is referenced as the text being there the next day as it was yesterday because in that volume or edition of the book the text will stay the same from day to day without change. It is hard to change the text on analog books once the book has been published and copies have begun to be released. The only way to change the ideas of the book is to release an updated version of the book with vol.2 other variations that say that this is a sequel with fresh ideas.

An exception to this would be newspapers as newspapers can come in daily so it can be published daily and the text will not be changed on the newspaper that is on possession. A new newspaper can come in the next day with different text. Right now, newspapers are electronic and can be updated as new information is released instead of writing multiple articles for newspapers we can keep it to just one article that is updated whenever information is released. Digital Newspapers can also be read by anyone anywhere in the world which is an advantage over physical newspapers. No shipment time is going to be required as the web is fast and quick.

Books are in a state where they can exist without being physical. Books can be electronic, and ideas can be preserved through the web if the web stays intact and the media that the book exists on doesn’t go extinct like the flash related books that only existed on flash player that has been discontinued on December 31, 2020. Otherwise, books do not have a chance of being obsolete in this manner as the books that have been lost through the discontinuation of flash are being restored by people wishing to archive these types of books. Each book is being archived with the medium being preserved or the books having new mediums. In Borsuk “The book will not become obsolete with new reading platforms but rather will change and develop new incarnations and readerships; it will continue to serve certain kinds of literary needs and desires”(Borsuk, 221) As new mediums come in more books will come in about that medium whether in the traditional formats or the less traditional formats. Any other formats that come out would be seen as less traditional formats of the book and would be seen as something new and exciting.

In the Book by Borsuk we have seen the book talk about how the book is supposed to be an intimate experience between the reader and the book itself in physical form. It used to be that there would be book talks among peers after reading the book but in the future, we will start to see a shift in the opposite direction. Books will become more social as that gives an advantage to Digital Publishing and that kind of experience cannot be replicated in traditional print books. With the program Perusall we are seeing how this type of medium for Books would function, but it is not perfect and it could be better as the system utilizes AI to generate the annotations and comments that others have made. The developer of the reader can decide to limit and let the AI filter the number of annotations that appear onscreen so that the reader does not become overwhelmed and frustrated with the experience. How social can a book get and what is the perfect balance between what works and what doesn’t? The best way to deal with this is to let the AI filter the number of annotations being seen and include a search box for annotations and web-based content. For example, when a word is highlighted, someone can touch or right click on the word and then they can get the word auto filled in the search box which searches up the word. Other options include annotations containing that word will also pop up in the box which allows the reader to discuss with other people about what they are reading in that moment. Other options in this eBook would include the ability to turn annotations on or off and filter the number of annotations being seen. Social media connectivity will also be a connection in this book as the book is becoming more social there will be more features related to social media being involved within the reader itself as having it within the search function and highlighting functions will be too overwhelming.

Other social functions involving the book will exist outside the experience itself. Such as how books get recommended as books have different mediums that come out the categories that books exist within changes. Because, it is an entirely different experience. The way books are recommended will change based on the popularity and demand of each book experience. Including books that I am not going to be mentioning like Brain Chip Mind Warping Technology. All the experiences will have the ability to be recommended since there will be more experiences to choose from there will be more choice. With more choice means more flexibility and user control. If they want books in a VR experience they can have it.

The changes in the medium also fluctuate based on consumer demand. In Borsuk, “from scroll to bound folio, books have indeed evolved. And like all things subject to evolution they can face extinction.” (Borsuk, 183). A medium can be created but then disappear due to low consumer demand. For example, with video games that form of medium for games fluctuated based on consumer demand and ended up being off the market for a few years following the video game crash of 1983. Other things such as funding and expenses make it hard to maintain the medium. Demand is going to be very crucial with how the book develops because businesses are hoping to make money off of any new mediums that come out with the book. When the physical books were created they were created at a time were demand needed to be there in order to invent something. Funding was not going to be that big of an issue if books can be developed for years to make It successful. A digital book medium will not take as long and it will use the success of the book as a checkpoint to create something from there which was the eBook. These formats were able to adapt to consumer demand and have remained stable mediums throughout time. Especially with the eBook being a fairly new medium but not as new as other mediums that may not be as stable and would only exist for a short period of time.

Game based books may start coming out. Like I mentioned earlier there was a video game crash that made it so that consumers could not buy video games as they were low in demand and no one wanted to buy any anyway. However, video games have made a comeback and the demand for video games is greater than ever as books can have their own video game like we are seeing but they could have more details and experiences that are not currently found book-based video games today. Sometimes books become movies then become games. However, we lose a lot of detail in the story and the video games do not seem as good as the book especially if the video game is based off the movie and not the book. There may be a future where as gaming evolves so does books. Same with how video evolves so will the book. Videos could have a choose your own adventure style that could easily be implemented into eBooks but not with physical print books as it is not possible to choose your own adventure in those books. Books have the ability to evolve if other forms of media evolve to create a different kind of experience.

Books will not exclude print but we have advantages and disadvantages to consider when we are reading using eBooks as they are able to add features change the experience and create new mediums digitally. The people who will be publishing the social and gaming related books will be the authors themselves as they take pride in publishing their own books, other publishers who are already established and new up and coming publishers. Google may want to take over the publishing market as a whole to monopolize the marketplace like it is doing now with Google Books. The readers of the books will vary in attention spans and are willing to read things that spark interest. The attention spans of the readers are more likely to be shorter than current reader attention spans. The experience of the social and gaming books will be as familiar and usable to the reader as possible. The experience of course will vary depending on the book format. The VR books will function like VR. The social based books will be a new experience with some familiar features to help the reader guide through the reading. Gaming books will function like a video game. Most people do not like change so when changing a medium it needs to be familiar and the new things need to mesh well with what is new. What will be coming in the future is not decided by me but the future will be decided by many people and it is coming whether we like it or not so what the book will be in the future can change at anytime by anyone but one thing is for certain the analog will not go away. . “what is beyond the book is still a book”(Borsuk, 256)

work cited:

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. The MIT Press, 2018.

The Future of the Book mini-essay

Books today can still come in traditional formats but at the expense of the dwindling publications that exist. Post-modern publications are phasing out. Some artists still make print, and with the push towards eco-friendly alternatives, digital publications are here to stay. Like how Jessica Pressman writes in “The Aesthetic of Bookishness in Twenty-First Century Literature” she states a great understanding, “The book will not become obsolete with new reading platforms, but rather, will change and develop new incarnations and readerships.” The idea isn’t to eradicate print but to make new knowledge accessible. In the past thirty years, we as a society have digitized 70% of modern publications, and all new publications are made purely for e-readers or made available on the web. Libraries haven’t changed much since 2020, however, the buildings are now full of computers. Libraries still carry prints that haven’t been digitized and analog content is still cherished, but with all new publications being digital, libraries resemble offices stacked upon one another. Digital e-readers are more popularly rented out and content is downloaded from the library itself. AR rooms in libraries are provided for presentations as commonly as they are in the office and classrooms. 

Libraries of the Future
Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

Books still exist, but with a focus on accessibility, we begin to deepen our understanding of books with an immersive relationship. In Amaranth Borsuk’s “The Book,” she talks about Socrates’ fears of sharing ideology through literature when she writes “Their concerns echo contemporary anxieties about the ways digitally mediated reading and writing shortens our attention spans and ability to engage deeply with texts.” This isn’t the case or reality today. As we’ve adapted to technology, we’ve developed new tools and reinvented the pen. Now more than ever creativity can be delivered through multimedia and we can share ideas that are cohesive. Ideas aren’t just text, ideas aren’t just language, and communication isn’t just words. We’re incorporating all the senses, touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. Although 4D content using taste and smell is only an artist’s form of entertainment today and not necessarily practical outside of a kitchen or lab. The fact still remains that we can share information that reaches our audiences and our content only proliferates the process of thought and understanding allowing us to connect the dots between ideas that we couldn’t before with purely print publication.

ID 103998384

 © Ekkasit919 | Dreamstime.com

In academia and among the consumers we’re seeing multiple forms of digestible content. Privatized entertainment has jumped on board in creating content for multimedia-based entertainment. 3D TVs seem like a precursor to today’s development in media. In classrooms, we’re seeing AR projectors that help professors convey ideas in ways they couldn’t before. Hulu and Netflix regularly showcase 3D movies with that same technology. All platforms have jumped on the idea of digitized multi-media texts. For example, cookbooks are readily available on Amazon prime with video and text. Netflix has gone beyond their “choose your own adventure” films and succumbed to the idea of providing literature. We’re at a period where we once thought that video would overtake creative media and yet it’s the exact opposite. Immersive content is thriving. In Borsuk’s “The Book” talking about when digital texts were first introduced, the author says “The very existence of such digital books, however, precisely because they allow content to be poured into any crystal goblet available, gave rise in the 1990s and 2000s to e-readers” given the time, accessibility and convenience seemed like a prototype back then. In comparison, what we have today is that of a cauldron or a buffet table of content and it is us who now have the option to dip our crystal goblets into wherever we wish. As long as you have a tablet, an AR headset, a personal computer, or a projector all media is accessible across all platforms.

ID 196858352

 © Prostockstudio | Dreamstime.com

Not all books are yet to be converted to AR formats, but when the readily available digital publications are cheaper and massively distributed from student to student. The negative aspects of our situation are simplified to the demand for content and media conversion rising as we enter a new era of publication. Just as students would beg for PDFs and ebooks to prevent carrying 50-pound backpacks from class to class back in the 20s, students demand content readily available on their devices and it needs to be available yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Digital publication distribution is booming, but we owe the concept to Angela Ruiz Robles, as referenced in Borsuk’s examination of the book: 

One of the earliest was that of Galician schoolteacher Ángela Ruiz Robles, who patented a mechanical book in 1949 that would use electricity and compressed air to create an illuminated interactive page. While the project was never realized, Robles continued to develop the idea, patenting and prototyping her Enciclopedia Mecánica (Mechanical Encyclopedia), its successor, in 1962 to condense the number of textbooks young students would have to carry.

While technology has advanced and while we have simultaneously adapted, it’s starting to feel like the narrative doesn’t change. It’s the same conversation we’re having with technology in identifying how the codex has evolved and what it will become. While innovation apparently happens, it feels like nothing has changed. We’ve had this conversation before with personal computers, we’ve had this conversation with mobile devices, and we’re having it now. Reflection is important especially if we think about how digital publication started. In the early days creating a website and making a personal blog wasn’t considered authoritative. As children, we would play around with the abilities of starry backgrounds and different headers, but we didn’t consider what we have now: Full-blown digitized publications, chapters, illustrations, multi-media, everything you want in a book, but with just a little bit more. We’re able to take authoritative concepts and instructional information and visualize physical labs in new ways in the classroom. Blackboards are now drag-and-drop three-dimensional spaces. With how easy and developed programming has become over three decades I could have never foreseen it being a regular skill. 

 

We’re at the forefront of the next step in advancement, where we have a few AR settings available to the consumers and specifically the disabled. Folks who don’t have the option to leave their homes or can’t afford to be mobile are presented with the alternative of virtual classrooms much more advanced than the days of Zoom. With learning environments kept in mind, educational software is designed in the same way we used to design video games. Physics engines, user interface, avatars, accessibility, and communications are developed to put the student in the classroom. This allows campuses to reach students across the world. This gives homeschooled children the option to have that hybrid social environment. With digital content in full swing, you could say that it’s all backward compatible. With AR projectors, there’s no need for a computer, but if you have a computer, there’s no need for a tablet, and if you have a tablet there’s no need for a book, and if you have a book there’s no need for papyrus. But given the option, we can replicate any medium with what we have today. Featured in Borsuk’s book a rudimentary concept was introduced in 2011 “The Icebook” by Davy and Kristen McGuire, “Described by its creators as ‘a miniature theater show made of paper and light,’ the book use projection mapping to play a fairy tale across a series of eleven blank pop-up pages. The projected video adds characters, detail, and lighting effects to a wooded landscape, a Victorian mansion, a lighthouse, a church, and other settings.” If we can imagine a pop-up book for fictional stories 40 years ago. Imagine what we can do today with non-fiction content minus the cameras and well beyond the graphics processing of video games 20 years ago. 

 

Still, the fact is we are making another breakthrough in creating immersive learning environments and taking the whole experience of making data portable. While we keep our publishers in mind, we know we have production studios dishing out content after content, we have to start thinking about the future of media, texts, and communication. Not much has changed in the past 30 years, digital content may have been elementary and in its early stages compared to how integrated it has become today. However, the facts are even the company Meta has had this concept advertised for years until it has become fully realized, webpages were just online newspapers. We could sit here and compare modern ideas with the way author and artist, Ulises Carrion, discussed classical publication and the craft that comes with creating books of his time and how we perceive content and format, but he was right when he was quoted in Borsuk’s “The Book,” Carrion, at a speech almost 70 years ago saying: 

“I firmly believe that every book that now exists will eventually disappear.” And true to form, he expresses little sadness over the loss: “And I see here no reason for lamentation. Like any other living organism, books will grow, multiply, change color, and, eventually, die. At the moment, bookworks represent the final phase of this irrevocable process. Libraries, museums, archives are the perfect cemeteries for books.”

 

Today, we need to consider and relish how expansive the information superhighway has evolved and how we’ve put literally all of data within databases archiving itself a thousand times over and how we put comprehensive information into our fingertips allowing us to visualize, collaborate, and share ideas. Tomorrow we need to be expecting more in terms of accessibility, usability, portability, and affordability to streamline this process more than ever. We have the content, but how do we reinvent the book?

work cited:

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. The MIT Press, 2018.

The Future of the Book Essay

As we look to the past, we find that the historical context behind books has changed immensely through what the idea of a book entails, the content of a book, and the form in which a book may come in. However, although the progression of books has changed over time the ideas behind the codex of the book remains to this day. The codex has allowed for us as content creators, readers, authors, and publishers to build upon books as more than just an object composed of pages of writing, but rather an immersive experience in which we can develop and build upon already created and new ideas. Today the concept of the book has surpassed those before it, building upon the capabilities and understanding of the digital world and digital publishing. Additionally, it is with the rise of artificial intelligence over the years that we are now capable of creating a book in which authors, artists, and artificial intelligence can collaborate with one another. In doing so, we have created an immersive and digital experience for readers within the digital world and brought about new changes to digital publishing. Along with increasing the accessibility behind books. Today publishers cannot only express their ideas to their readers, but also create an immersive experience in which readers can interact with books rather than simply just reading them.

Over the years the content and form of books has been transforming and evolving to build upon the ideas of authors and meet the needs of publishers and readers to, as said by book historian Frederick Kilgour, fulfill society’s ever-increasing need of information (Borsuk 3). As stated in The book by Amaranth Borsuk:

“Different technologies of the book exist side by side throughout its history: tablet and scroll, scroll and codex, manuscript and print, paperback and e-book. Looking at the changing object of the book gives us a deeper sense of the history or relations between form and content that help define it,” (Borsuk 3).

In the past, many authors and artists have used the medium behind e-books to create their own “immersive cinematic and game-like reading” experience taking advantage of the digital space created by such a medium providing books with an even greater importance (Borsuk 224). Today the concept and form of a book has far exceeded those within the past, as we now have books in which readers can have a more immersive and interactive experience using artificial intelligence and holograms within tablet format. The idea that helped to create books today was developed from an idea that originated from Galician school teacher Ángela Ruiz Robles:

“Who patented a mechanical book in 1949 that would use electricity and compressed air to create an illuminated interactive page. While the project was never realized, Robles continued to develop the idea, patenting and prototyping her Enciclopedia Mecánica (Mechanical Encyclopedia), its successor, in 1962 to condense the number of textbooks young student would have to carry,” (Borsuk 231).

With our technological advances over the years, it is through the collaboration of authors, artists, and artificial intelligence that we have created books within a tablet format that projects holographic images while you are reading immersing you within the text.

With the development of books over the years the mechanical reproduction of such texts has revealed to us that the form a book takes in turn can shape the content of that book (Borsuk 111). According to Borsuk:

“The mechanical reproduction of both texts and book objects in the industrial age and the start of the twentieth century helped solidify the codex as an efficient, portable, marketable object, available in hardbound or paperback covers, and distributed through networks of bookshops, libraries, and book fairs worldwide,” (Borsuk 111).

Now, with that in mind the question remains, what is the technological production process behind today’s books? It is, of course, through writers that the texts for today’s books are written, but once that process has been completed artists work to collaborate with such writers in creating images, diagrams, or sketches for such texts. It is then that artificial intelligence takes that art and converts it into three-dimensional images that can be projected through the screen of a tablet. As stated by Borsuk “When digital books make the interface a visible and integral part of the narrative, we begin to see the extent to which any book is a negotiation, a performance, a dynamic event that happens in the moment and is never the same twice,” (Borsuk 247). It is then that content creators, authors, or publishers then publish these works digitally giving them a platform and allowing for them to become easily accessible to readers around the world.

With these technological advances in place in the process of digital publishing and creating books today, we have allowed ourselves to think of the form and content of books as more than what the codex intended them to be. In his work “Twenty Minutes into the Future” George P. Landow states that “We have already moved far enough beyond the book that we find ourselves, for the first time in centuries, able to see the book as unnatural, as a near-miraculous technological innovation and not as something intrinsically and inevitably human,” (Landow; Borsuk 64). The form that a book takes place and the content within it, especially now, allows for readers to have an immersive experience with the digital world in allowing them to interact with the text through holographic imagery that can be interacted with. As mentioned in Jessica Pressman’s work “The Aesthetic of Bookishness in the Twenty-First Century Literature”:

“The book will not become obsolete with new reading platforms, but rather, will change and develop new incarnations and readerships; it will continue to serve certain kinds of literacy needs and literary desires – specifically, those related to its book – bound physicality and potentiality,” (Pressman; Borsuk 64).

The development of books and digital publishing up until this point has allowed for different ways in which readers can interact with the text, but it is with this new formatting of digital books that the interaction between readers and the text has reached a whole new level.

Now, although there are many positives that can come from how books are created today in that they provide a more interactive experience between readers and the text, there is something to be said about what can be lost in this process. Being able to interact with holographic images while reading a text can be very helpful and effective in allowing for others to understand the text that they are reading better, such as students and teachers. However, there is a creative loss that comes with the use of holographic images within such texts. Although, the process of an author collaborating with an artist to create imagery for their book creates a sort of an artistic integrity for the author in being able to create a visualization of their ideas, the reader loses their ability to use their own visualizations for the text. When a reader chooses to read a creative digital work, they are provided with holographic images of what the author intended for characters or settings within that story to look like. This particularly takes away from the creative freedom of readers when interacting with such texts as they can no longer visualize their selves what they believe a particular character within the story may look like as you would have been able to do in the past. Additionally, there is also the loss of non-digital texts as everything now is within a digital platform.

In conclusion, it is through this exploration between the digital and non-digital forms of books within the past and now that we are able to understand how the format of texts today can be seen as both an advantage and disadvantage within the digital publishing world. Content creators, authors, and publishers have now created an immersive and interactive platform for digital publishing. These texts today exist for authors and artists to collaborate in truly immersing their selves within the creation of these texts and their content. It is also with these texts that readers are now able to interact with the text and get a more immersive experience from what they are reading along with having the ability to access such texts from anywhere. We can allow ourselves to explore even further the digital world and the importance and influences behind digital publishing. However, the downside of this is that there no longer is any imaginative implementation that can take place for readers in interacting with these texts taking away from their enjoyment of these books. Although historically there is always a give and take with the development of anything, especially books. In the end, we can say that “Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book,” (Mallarmé; Borsuk 134).

 

Work Cited:

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. The MIT Press, 2018.

The Post Artifact

In “Post-Artifact Book” Craig Mod discusses the evolution of the writing process. The internet brought with it a way for authors to bypass publishers and created a direct connection to the reader. With this connection, writers are now able to engage with the reader during the writing process. This can significantly affect the books direction as the author can see, in real time, what the reader is interested in and what needs to be cut out. Craig Mod also discusses the future of sharing our personal marginalia on any book with any person. “We give form to our private telepathy through marginalia — marks, highlights, notes in the margins.” This would allow for further interaction with the book, eventually resulting and in a whole new idea. When I was growing up, the internet was still a new thing. My family only had one computer, so I didn’t really use it for much other than games or stories on floppy disks. Once I entered middle school and had to do more in-depth projects for school, I would utilize the internet for research on whichever topic I was covering. Once Myspace exploded, information began to be pasted via social media. Now we can share almost anything with anyone instantly. 

Post-Artifact Publishing

While reading Craig Mod’s “Post-Artifact Book,” several thoughts were racing through my head. One of them was about my sister, and how she is an author herself, and publishes her own books through Amazon. She stays up late every night, chugging red bulls and typing thousands upon thousands of words every session, while also balancing being a teacher during the day. It was surreal holding one of the first copies of her own book that she wrote, did the cover art for, and published herself through Amazon. This quote reminded me of her situation:

“So submitting that file to be printed is to place ultimate faith in the book. To believe — because you must for the sake of sanity! — that this is the best you can do given the constraints. And you will have to live with the results forever.”

Now, I’m sure that she has felt this feeling before, specifically as she is editing the final parts of the book and making sure everything looks right in the software, and then the big decision to press PUBLISH. I’m sure this is more of a reality with more popular authors, since the big time authors probably can’t make significant changes after just publishing the book. But, if you do publish yourself as a small author through Amazon, you’re able to change whatever you want to the book on the fly, and then the next person who orders the book will receive the edited version (though not knowing it had been edited). For a major musician, they have to give the okay of publishing their new album, and that they can’t really make any changes past that. I think there’s fear when you’re about to press PUBLISH on anything, since there’s a chance that anyone can see an imperfect creation, especially in digital media. Now, that’s not to say that it needs to be perfect, but just that the person publishing feels they did their best with what they made.

I think an impact of the digital age is that we get to hear everyone’s opinions and thoughts. Maybe in some cases it’s forced down our throats, even. But I know that just with looking something up on Google, you get so many answers, links, and ideas. I know there’s been many times that Google doesn’t provide a definitive answer, but Reddit does. Forums are a good example of this system, where you get to hear people’s thoughts on anything. For me growing up, I would always scroll through comment sections on YouTube videos to see what other people were thinking about it. It creates an additional world to the artifact, the world of the community it is consumed by, and also a personal world of the lone consumer.

 

Post-Artifact Systems

“The future book — the digital book — is no longer an immutable brick. It’s ethereal and networked, emerging publicly in fits and starts. An artifact ‘complete’ for only the briefest of moments. Shifting deliberately. Layered with our shared marginalia. And demanding engagement with the promise of community implicit in its form.”

Book lovers fear the end of the texture of paper, the sound of flipping pages, and the excitement of cracking open a new book. “It’s not going to be the same anymore.”

Growing up with technology would have never been the same as picking up a book. Reflecting on my own experiences, it started out with only using school computers for education such as looking on Wikipedia.

Mod explains “take a set of encyclopedias and ask, “How do I make digital? You get a Microsoft Encarta CD. Take the philosophy of encyclopedia-making and ask, “How does digital change our engagement with this?” You get Wikipedia.

Like much of the essay the driving point is that digital becomes powerful when it is not shoehorned into analog conception of artifacts. A book is a book (a newspaper a newspaper) because that was what the technology used to best allow for. With new technology we will redefine our artifacts of information.

“The book of the past reveals its individual experience uniquely. The book of the future reveals our collective experience uniquely.”

Post-Artifact Media

Manifested properly, each new person who participates in the production of digital marginalia changes the reading experience of that book for the next person. -Craig Mod

In this article, the author defines the post-artifact system as the consumption and engagement portion of the media making process. In traditional analog media, this is a closed loop that completes this system. However, the creation of digital media expanded the entire scope of what he originally believed. With this new tool, audiences gained the ability to interact with the content in countless ways. In Mod’s words, it is comparable to a conversation rather than a standard book. I find his thoughts to be very intriguing and understandable, and I agree with his assessment of the artifact system.

I resonated with this article because of the long term interaction I have had with technology. It has been everywhere around me since I was born, and I have observed the system of processes that Mod discusses in this article. However, the post-artifact system did not make itself fully apparent until social media became more common. I have observed and engaged with countless articles, blog posts, videos, and more. The interaction that I create with others online is an example of the post-artifact system. By doing so, I am contributing my own thoughts to the artifact, which in turn allows other viewers to experience a larger web of ideas and opinions during the phase of the system. They are then able to add their own opinions that in turn expand the system, thus restarting the cycle of post-artifact consumption.